Disney // 2005 // 58 Minutes // Rated G
Reviewed by Judge Steve Evans (Retired) // December 19th, 2005
Disney repackages three Christmas cartoons in a budget-priced DVD.
In The Small One the first feature on the disc, a little boy discovers the spirit of the season when he gives his beloved donkey to the mother of a certain infant deity on a very special night. This 25-minute feature was produced and directed in 1978 by Don Bluth (The Land Before Time), years before he staged a walkout on the Disney studio and navigated Hollywood for a time as an indie producer before hooking up with Steven Spielberg's animation studio. "The Small One" is a beautifully animated short drawn in Bluth's distinctive style.
In the second cartoon, Disney's famed yellow dog Pluto goes ballistic when he discovers chipmunks Chip 'n' Dale partying inside Pluto's Christmas Tree, an amusing seven-minute short from 1952.
Mickey's Christmas Carol, produced in 1983, features the most famous mouse on earth as Bob Cratchit, foil to Ebenezer Scrooge in a charming adaptation of Dickens' oft-told Christmas tale. This has been broadcast many times on television, but is worth owning on disc just to have a different holiday-themed program to show the kiddies after they've heard Boris Karloff essay How the Grinch Stole Christmas! for the 25th time in a week. Goofy is oddly cast as the ghost of Jacob Marley, while Donald Duck provides his usual comic relief as nephew Fred (Clarence Nash gives his last performance as the original voice of Donald Duck). Willie the Giant bumbles merrily through the role of the ghost of Christmas present. And Jiminy Cricket is perfectly cast as the nagging conscience of the ghost of Christmas past.
The animation is radiant and highly detailed; this is a lovingly produced Disney short. Cartoon buffs may be interested to know that this featurette was Oscar-nominated in 1983 for best short subject. Mickey's Christmas Carol also marked the famous rodent's first appearance on a theatrical screen after a 30-year absence. The short was released as the supporting feature for a reissue of The Rescuers in mid-December 1983.
Children will enjoy the gentle Christmas sentiments on this disc, while world-weary adults, faced with another over-hyped December of glad tidings and consumer shilling, might find themselves bemused by Disney's careful packaging. According to the front of the keepcase, this is a DVD of classic "holiday" stories. All of them center on Christmas, of course, though the box cover is decidedly secular in its presentation of these old shorts from the Disney vaults. But that's just my "bah, humbug!" blast against the politically-correct commercial sentiments of another Yuletide season. Those who go out of their way to offend no one will invariably annoy someone. End of Christmas rant.
Sound and video for all three shorts are luxuriously rich.
No extras are offered, but with a sticker price of around $10, this "holiday" disc makes a nice stocking stuffer or early Christmas treat. Having said that, consumers should take note: Disney repackages a lot of older material on different releases. Because all of the features on this disc have been issued previously on other DVD compilations or on VHS, careful collectors will do well to scan their current Disney titles lest they buy product they already own.
Disney is hereby set free to spread Christmas cheer and rake in the resulting lucre.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 58 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated G